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Freddy Buache, a letter to cinema

Piazza Grande - Lettre à Freddy Buache

Freddy Buache, a letter to cinema

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“My dear Freddy…” So begins one of the most endearing and fascinating practical jokes in the history of filmmaking: an 11-minute short where Jean-Luc Godard explains why he won’t make the short film commissioned by the City of Lausanne for its 400th anniversary. In context, Lettre à Freddy Buache (1982) is a riveting, exhilarating work of subversive genius. Out of context, it remains a charming, even moving piece of cinema, the ultimate tribute to the man who, especially in Switzerland, embodied the world of film: Freddy Buache, the founder and first director of the Cinémathèque suisse, film critic, historian, teacher, author, actor (in Godard’s King Lear) and, from 1967 to 1970, the co-director of the Locarno Film Festival alongside Sandro Bianconi. And while he may no longer be with us (he passed away on May 29, aged 94), his warmly bellowing voice and distinctive mustache will still be part of Swiss film culture for many years to come, starting with the Piazza Grande screening of Godard’s tribute. A screening that will prove Buache wrong as far as one of his strongly held beliefs is concerned: cinema is still very much alive, and in no small part thanks to him.

Max Borg

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